Conference Agenda

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Session Overview
#SH1: Feminist Digital Humanities Paper Session
Thursday, 25/Jul/2019:
3:45pm - 4:45pm

Session Chair: Emily Esten
Location: Marquis A, Marriott City Center
capacity 42

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DH-Mapping "Comfort Women Statues" as Transnational Dissent Opposing the Denial of War Crimes


History Dept, UW-Milwaukee, United States of America

This presentation introduces a DH project that seeks to document the recent transnational activist movement to memorialize female survivors and victims of wartime violence, a campaign that has frequently faced controversy around the creation of public memorial statues. These statues are mostly replicas or counterparts to an earlier statue that can be found in Seoul, at the site in front of the Japanese embassy. There, a bronze statue depicts a young teenage girl, seated with a placid expression on her face and wearing chin-length hair in the manner of a schoolchild. Originally placed there by a non-governmental women’s advocacy council in 2011, “Peace Statue of a Girl” memorializes victims of the so-called “comfort system” of sexual slavery during WWII when an estimated 200,000 girls and women from several Asian countries and also the Netherlands were abducted and forced into sexual slavery by the Japanese imperial military. Women and girls were captured, coerced, or deceived with promises of employment and sent to military “comfort stations,” including on the frontlines. The remaining survivors and their advocates have long pressed for that system of sexual violence and institutionalized rape to be legally recognized and prosecuted as war crimes, an effort that continues nearly 75 years after WWII ended. In the absence of an official recognition of state responsibility regarding those human-rights violations, replicas of the Statue of a Girl have been erected in various sites internationally – including California, Australia, and Germany – despite objections by the Japanese government. This presentation will introduce a DH project that seeks to document the multi-sited material practices of memorialization as an embodied strategy and transnational discourse of protest. An aim of the project is to make more accessible various interpretations of this decentralized movement, with over 50 statues in South Korea and 13 in other countries, as a transnational strategy for sustaining dissent surrounding the denial of war crimes.

Posthumanities: Interrogating Identities in Digital Fourth-Wave Feminisms in the South

Narayanamoorthy Nanditha

York University, Toronto, Canada

In recent years, India has become a battleground for gender wars and feminist activism both on the streets and on digital media platforms. Digital and technoscientific affordances have enormous stakes, not merely in the redefinition and reimagination of digital feminist movements but in enabling a specific functionality for digital feminism to subvert dominant narratives and structures and challenge the status quo of existing pre-ordained fixities in the understanding of traditional gender roles and identities.

This paper analyzes the #MeToo movement in the Southern Hemisphere, particularly in the context of India, through Twitter hashtags, to redevelop theories of digital feminist activism or fourth-wave feminism in the quest for alternative forms of feminist embodiment and humanity than those offered by traditional, dominant and masculinist models of identity delineation. I posit this inquiry outside the realm of Digital Humanities and humanist identitarian politics and locate it in posthumanist thought to counter decentralizing, hegemonic and monopolizing human value systems to eventually arrive at varied possibilities, affirmations and imaginations of female bodies and identities and that in Donna Haraway’s words does not foreclose an understanding of the entangled, relational and processual nature of identity (1991). In other words, I embark on a quest for interrogating identity construction in the context of digital feminism and the dismantling of these utopian structures to enter into new modes of thought using digital spaces that I call digital democracies. The online becomes a site for a complex posthumanistic inquiry; a space of mutuality and broken barriers in identity construction that redefines feminist freedom.

Delving into the particular case study of the #MeToo movement in India enables an exploration of its evolution, its migration to the South and an examination of how women take control of their bodies and sexualities using digital affordances and ultimately reimagine their histories and their futures outside of patriarchy.

I use Twitter Web API’s to extract Big Data from online digital platforms, Twitter in this case, for a posthumanist close reading of social media discourses, employing scholarship by scholars like Judith Butler and Donna Haraway, in the attempt to gauge patterns of resistance and subversion and in the understanding of the role of hashtag movements in the Fourth Wave of Indian Feminism in the ‘liberation’ of women’s bodies and sexualities. Finally, I argue for a positivist evolution and transformation of Digital Humanities into Posthumanities or Post Digital-Humanities for a critical adoption of new knowledge systems and imaginations of self-definition. The Future of Film and Feminism

Laurel Anne Carlson1, Joseph Stephen Carlson2

1University of Iowa; 2Independent

This collaborative digital humanities project is the product of a shared passion for film, feminism, and the creative potential of technology. By combining the talents and interests of an American Studies scholar and an independent software engineer, we’ve created an innovative data mining tool for feminist film analysis.

The Bechdel Test asks whether a film meets the following criteria: 1) It includes at least two women, 2) who have at least one conversation, 3) about something other than a man or men. The film script parsing tool automatically tests film scripts to determine whether or not they pass the Bechdel Test in just a few seconds.

The importance of this tool lies in its ability to analyze films on the macro-level. While anyone can sit through a film with a notebook and pencil in order to determine if it passes the Bechdel Test, this is a slow and cumbersome process. With the tool we’ve created, the process is automated, which allows massive amounts of data to be generated with ease. Thus, data can be produced for large bodies of film, i.e. a certain director’s filmography, a certain actress’ body of work, or for the films released in a specific year.

We view this tool as a form of feminist activism. As such, the software is open source and available for use by anyone and everyone.

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